Archives For Thrifting

how to shop for secondhand clothing

If you’ve spent much time in thrift stores (or sorting through donations for nonprofits or following a disaster), you know that our society is absolutely overrun with clothes. It’s a burden. It’s kind of jarring when you think about it that clothes are mass-produced, worn for a short time, then sent to languish on thrift store racks while they are still in good condition. It’s the definition of excess. Thanks to Macklemore, thrifting is becoming more popular but it’s still kind of stigmatized and there are still more clothes than we could ever need getting donated to thrift stores every day. At my favorite thrift store I regularly walk out with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and the less fancy but still adorable Loft, Target, Gap, and Old Navy items for $3 a pop. I even found a Diane von Furstenberg blouse once but sadly it wasn’t my size.

You can save a ton of money and also do your part to reduce waste by buying clothing secondhand. But if you’re new to thrifting it can be intimidating and overwhelming. You can read all my tips in my recent post for Red Stick Moms Blog!

You can see some of my recent acquisitions in this post from last week. I haven’t bought any “new” clothes in several months (besides a swimsuit and some scrubs for work, though I do always check out the scrubs at thrift stores as well). I don’t miss traditional shopping at all! I’m able to pick up a few new pieces every month without guilt over spending too much money. Once you get really comfortable with thrift shopping it can be totally addicting to find such cute clothes for so little money.

I think that most folks associate thrift store style with vintage clothing, a la either Macklemore or the coolest girl in Theatre Club. While I love vintage finds for my home, I am not so good at wearing vintage clothing and I actually don’t see much of it in thrift stores anyway. What I do love wearing and find plenty of are popular contemporary brands. I made a vow back in April to buy only secondhand clothing for a year. Here are some of my faves purchased in just the last few months:

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This Target dress is so comfortable and flattering. It hits just above the knee and provides plenty of coverage up top so I can wear it in professional settings, but it’s breezy enough to go almost anywhere. I probably wear it at least once a week, usually with a thin belt.

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This one is made by Poetry and is more of a date night dress. The back requires a fancy bra, it’s hand wash only, and it’s a little on the short side, but I wore it out on our anniversary last month and felt like a million bucks even in flats.

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This Banana Republic top is totally adorable. I love the color and the cut. I can wear it with shorts or jeans or tuck it into a skirt for a more tailored look.

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This Old Navy top is soooo comfortable. We’ve taken a couple of road trips this summer and it’s perfect for long car rides. It feels like pajamas but looks much cuter.

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I just bought this Gap dress last week and haven’t had a chance to wear it yet. It’s definitely more of a date night dress but that waistband? It’s elastic. My favorite color, figure-flattering, and forgiving of extra helpings? Yes, please. It’s too bad we don’t have any weddings on the horizon because it would be perfect for munching on cake and dancing the night away.

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This dress is made by Lush and I’ve practically lived in it this summer. It’s perfect as a swimsuit coverup or with a racerback bra for wearing almost anywhere. It’s definitely my go-to on weekends because it’s comfortable enough to lounge in all day but decent enough for an impromptu outing.

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I didn’t recognize the label in this dress and it actually looked a bit different when I bought it. There were waaaay too many ruffles on top and my small stature just cannot handle all that volume. I bought it at a thrift store in Austin and used a small pair of scissors to remove all the stitching attaching the ruffles in our hotel room, then wore it to dinner that night! The remaining ruffles are a little wrinkly here and that is the only downside to this dress, seeing as I hate to iron. I usually just spritz them with a little water then lay them down to dry flat before putting it on and adding a leather belt.

Not everything I buy at thrift stores is a winner. I bring home plenty of duds even after ruthlessly editing in the fitting room, but the beauty of it is that no single item ever costs me more than $5. I dare say that I’m dressing better now than ever because I used to update my wardrobe very rarely. Now that I can walk into a store and come out with several pieces for under $20 I’m shopping much more often

I see silver trays and platters at thrift stores and estate sales all the time, but lately I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for one that’s a little bit larger than average, with ornate handles for dramatic effect. Like this:

life in the fun lane

In the Fun Lane

I think it would look so great hung over my stove. Like this:

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Country Living

So pretty, right? In my kitchen the stove is directly across from the only window in the room, so I think that a large silver platter hung there would be perfect to reflect light and add a little glam. Isn’t that spot just calling out for something?

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I’ve been hunting for several weeks and haven’t found one yet! I did bring home one tray, but it didn’t have handles and was just not glamorous enough. I’m looking for something 18″-24″ wide so that rules out eBay and Etsy (the shipping would be pretty high). I think I need to stop being so lazy on weekend mornings and step up my estate sale game! If you’re local and see something like this give me a holler.

How was your weekend, my lovelies? Mine flew by. I barely left the house, which is how I like it. We ate lunch and dinner on the back deck on Saturday–I am really loving the patio umbrella I bought rather impulsively last year. I got a few things done, too. Nothing lifechanging, but I will have a few things to share this week! Have a good one, yall.

I am seriously into estate sales. They are so much better than either garage sales or thrift stores. If you are as thrifty and as into cool, old things as I am then estate sales are like the mac daddy of shopping excursions. But I feel like people are intimidated by them. They don’t know how to find out about them, or they’re nervous about the idea of shopping inside someone’s house, or maybe the idea of picking through a deceased person’s belongings freaks them out. Have no fear. I’m going to assuage all of your concerns.

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First up, I signed up for emails ages ago on estatesales.net (they don’t know me and this is not a sponsored post, though I wish it was!). The folks who put on estate sales (usually private companies who specialize in just that) list them with estatesales.net and every week I get an email letting me know about the sales going on in my area. For many of them I can even click through to the website to view details and photos. Looking at the photos and location definitely helps me get an idea of whether a sale is worth my time. If it’s full of fancy antiques then chances are most everything will be too rich for my blood. And if the sale is in a very new neighborhood or in a condo then it’s pretty unlikely that there will be a large selection of vintage whatnots as the deceased probably already downsized when moving to that home. I wasn’t so sure about heading to this particular sale as it was held in a giant house on the LSU lakes and I worried it would be too fancy, but my friend Cassie scoped it out the day before and let me know that there was plenty of good stuff. The sofa below was only $250, marked down an additional 50% off because it was the last day of the sale. $125 for an antique sofa? I mean come on. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Which brings me to my next tip: sales usually last 2-4 days. If you’re looking for something specific, go early on the first day. If you’re looking for bargains, go early on the last day. For a three day sale items are usually full price on the first day, 25% off on the second day, and 50% off on the third day. And if love of sleep has kept you out of the garage sale circuit then you can breathe a sigh of relief: “early” for an estate sale means 9am at the very earliest. Sometimes they don’t even open until noon! You can check the times for the sale you’re attending on estatesales.net.

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The mid-century modern chest of drawers above was marked $325. Since I was there on the last day I could have snagged it for about $160. And this huge ottoman below was only $40 ($20 sale price). I was very, very tempted to bring it home and reupholster it, but I was there to shop for etsy inventory so I kept walking.

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The third question I hear often is twofold: isn’t it weird to be inside a stranger’s house/isn’t it weird to pick through a deceased person’s belongings? These are legitimate questions, but in all honesty it’s just not like that. Usually the family has already taken everything that’s meaningful to them, then the professionals come in and remove any remaining personal items before sorting and pricing everything. The furniture is rearranged to best display the items for sale, so instead of a bedroom you’re now standing in a room lined with folding tables covered in fabulous treasures. I went to an estate sale once that was not run very professionally–there were personal items still out (photographs on the walls, take-out menus on the fridge, etc.) and the staff were all sitting in the living room hanging out. It felt like we were intruding. The vast majority of sales are not like that.

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There’s usually a table set up near the exit with folks working as cashiers and the more organized companies even have bins set up near the checkout where you can place your selections as you continue shopping. If you’ve got your arms full a staff member may even offer to take your items to a bin for you while you shop! There are usually newspapers and plastic bags at the checkout for you to wrap up fragile items. If they’re busy there may be a staff member wrapping items to keep the line moving, but you should be prepared to wrap them up yourself otherwise. Also, if you want to buy something that’s too big to carry just grab the tag and bring it with you to the checkout. You can usually arrange to come back and pick it up later if you don’t have a way to get it out right then. For most sales you will need to provide your own labor for moving heavy items, so recruit a couple of strong helpers if you’re in the market for a china cabinet.

At this particular sale I was looking only for small items I can sell in my etsy shop. I came away with twelve small plates, a pair of pink depression glass soup bowls, and two silver plated serving dishes. Total: $48. That means I can list everything in my etsy shop at a reasonable price and still turn a profit. Everybody wins! But if you, like me, prefer the thrill of the hunt then definitely check out an estate sale in your town sometime. If you start attending them regularly you’ll get a feel for which companies and neighborhoods you prefer (in BR I love Mitchell Weeks sales and houses in the garden district/mid-city tend to have the coolest stuff). Thanks for reading, and if you’ve been nervous about checking out estate sales in the past I hope you’re now feeling more confident!